January 27, 2004

King Books

I realized last night that I hadn't done a pure "book" post in over a month. Well, looking down the sidebar list of books I've already mentioned in previous posts, I see at least one omission from my top 20 favorites, and that is Stephen King's "The Stand". I like most of King's stuff, but "The Stand" is clearly his deepest and most inspired novel. It doesn't necessarily stand up to a re-reading like, say, "Lord of the Rings", but it is absolutely a page-turner the first time through.

I know King is no literary great. His writing style is horrible to some, tolerable to others, etc. I don't really care about that as long as it is a good, fast-moving story to get immersed in. Some of the characters are fairly stock in this book, but with the right setting and the right plot, they work great. I love fiction with a little supernatural thrown in more than I like just pure fantasy, and King puts in just enough creepy magic to make it something you can imagine vividly.

The basic plotline is that a super-virus is released accidentally from a research facility, and it goes on to wipe out about 99.999% of the population (which still leaves a few thousand people alive) in America. Events in the rest of the world are only vaguely hinted at. An evil timeless being takes human form and goes by the name Randall Flagg, sensing his time has come. He proceeds to gather up all the bad people to Las Vegas, where they prepare to make war on all the good people, who gather in Boulder thanks to the supernatural guidance of an old woman named Mother Abigail. And it goes from there, with many twists and turns, etc. Some people told me if I liked King's book, I would like a book called "Swan Song" by Robert McCammon, which is Stand-like, but McCammon's book was terrible and made me appreciate King even more.

The story became a TV miniseries several years ago, and that wasn't bad at all. I don't think there was any way they could give it a movie treatment and tell the whole story in 2-3 hours, so a miniseries was the only way to go. I liked a lot of the actors in it, especially Gary Sinise. Like the book, it's something fun to immerse yourself in for six hours. A good rental from Blockbuster if you have time for that sort of thing. Also by King, the novel "It" is just a small step down in quality and readability (also a decent miniseries). I've read 4-5 others by him, but nothing I would very strongly recommend.

Posted by Observer at January 27, 2004 07:09 AM
Comments

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Was Sinise a bad people, or a good people? He always *seems* like a bad people. Something in his face.

Posted by: Polerand on January 27, 2004 11:20 AM

Sinise was a good people. The only really interesting and believeable bad person was the guy Flagg rescued from prison who ended up being Flagg's right-hand man, but I can't remember the character's name. Trashcan Man was over the top but fun to watch.

Posted by: Observer on January 27, 2004 11:24 AM

Funny story about "The Stand". The day I got back from Gulf War I, I called a friend of mine at work. He worked for his dad, and his dad said he'd just left a few minutes ago. When I called him again later that afternoon, I found out he'd just mailed me a copy of The Stand to my address in Saudi Arabia. Crickey, if I'd just called him five minutes earlier...

Anyway, I never got a package forwarded back from Saudi, so I never got it, and never read it.

Normally I like end-of-the-world stories, but I don't like horror, and I doubt I like King.

Posted by: Humbaba on January 27, 2004 01:49 PM

Don't know if you'd like it or not, but "The Stand" is apocalyptic fiction, with maybe a little gross-out horror mixed in (at the level of, say, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom", PG-13 style horror). The other book, "It", is most definitely horror.

Posted by: Observer on January 27, 2004 02:17 PM